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Lee County allocates $4.5 million to state beach reconstruction project

When Ashley White visits her mother on Gasparilla Island, as long as she can remember, the beach has been eroding.

“I can remember when there wasn’t a beach to walk on,” White said. “To be able to be down here today walking and collecting shells with my mom, it’s just they neat [sic], neat treat.”

White’s mother, Diane Hall, retired to the island and she agrees with those sentiments.

“In any one day or any one season,” Hall said, “you can see it coming way up and way back or down.”

Lee County is fronting $4.5 million to prevent the continuous erosion of the beach.

“Supporting this beach brings so much joy to so many people,” White said. “From beach walking to shelling, to enjoying the day with family and friends.”

The project focuses on the beachfront between 17th Street down to Gasparilla Island State Park. Photo via Google Maps.
The project focuses on the beachfront between 17th Street down to Gasparilla Island State Park. Photo via Google Maps.

Lee County is working with the Army Corps of Engineers to widen the beach. David Story said, if it weren’t for the beach, he would not have had much of a reason to keep visiting.

“If you take something away from people that they come down here for the main reason it takes away from the tourism from the businesses,” Story said. “Then people tend to not want to buy houses. It takes a waterfall effect to everything else in the area.”

The project will go from 17th Street down to Gasparilla Island State Park. Work is expected to be complete by next summer. Eventually, the county will be reimbursed for the project because it is on a state park.

As for White, she sees the importance of this investment.

“The return is infinite,” White said.

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